On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear three cases about whether our nation's main civil rights law bars discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination "because of sex," as well as race, color, national origin and religion.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is one of our nation's main civil rights law. Among other things, it prohibits covered employers from discriminating in any aspect of employment based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Questions have arisen over time, however, about the breadth of the law's coverage when it comes to sex. Is it illegal to discriminate based on homosexuality? Against someone who doesn't comply with sexual stereotypes? Against transgender people?
Anyone who watched President Barack Obama's inauguration last week likely heard the president's unexpected announcement of his support for gay rights. That proclamation has swiftly been followed by a call to action by gay rights activists, and one of the first things asked of the president has been that he ban federal contractors from practicing sexual orientation discrimination. Many might be surprised that this type of discrimination is not already outlawed in employment.